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Fears grow of imminent Turkish military operation in northern Iraq

FEARS are growing of an imminent Turkish invasion of Shengal in northern Iraq, with the autonomous administration vowing today to resist any attack.

Shengal Democratic Autonomous Assembly co-president Heso Birahim said that the region must not be sacrificed for political schemes, urging the authorities to respect the will of the people.

“We are not against Iraqi laws. We have the right to decentralisation under the Iraqi constitution. In addition the [new] genocide threats also give us the right to autonomy,” he said.

“We emphasise once again that we do not want war, but peace.”

But amid intensive speculation that Turkish forces are set to launch a new military offensive, he said: “At the same time, we inform that no attack on us will remain unanswered.”

Turkey has been accused of “Ottoman expansionism” and continuing the genocidal work of Isis as it threatens to invade on the pretext of ridding the area of terrorists.

It insists that Shengal is a hotbed of support for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which liberated Shengal from the jihadists after Peshmerga forces affiliated to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) fled the area in 2014. 

Shengal is seen as central to Turkey’s aims to expand its zones of occupation in Iraq and Syria.

A controversial “security deal” was struck between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in October last year behind the back of the local community.

It saw the imposition of Khidir Rasho from the KDP as mayor, despite him having lived abroad for at least seven years.

The agreement, made with the approval of the United States, aimed at driving out the PKK and its affiliated armed groups, has been rejected by the residents.

Washington seeks to impose a more compliant regime in Shengal which has set up its own self-governing autonomous structures. 

It is in line with wider plans to create a Sunni-corridor in Iraq’s contested regions to split progressive Kurds in Iraq from their counterparts in the Syrian enclave known as Rojava.

The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), an umbrella organisation that includes a range of groups and political parties including the PKK, said that thousands of Yazidis were still missing after around 300,000 were displaced and thousands of women and girls sold into sexual slavery by the jihadists.

It urged the Iraqi central government and KDP to focus on efforts to rebuild their society in the aftermath of the latest genocide. 

“We also call upon the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, and world human rights organisations to work to protect the Yazidis from future massacres, assist with the reconstruction of Sinjar, and reject political and military steps taken in Sinjar that are contrary to the will of the peoples of the region,” it said in a statement.


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